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pieces of happily ever after book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Alice Hirsh had the perfect life: a stunningly bright 5-year-old daughter named Gabby, a successful attorney for a husband, and a beautiful new home in the San Fernando Valley. In just one instant, her perfect world comes crashing down around her when she finds out her husband has been cheating on her with his celebrity client, Rose Maris. Suddenly photos of Alice appear in every gossip magazine on the stand and she is constantly pursued by the paparazzi. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Alice finds herself not only taking on the roll of a single parent but also that of primary caregiver for her mentally ill mother.

As Alice slowly begins to pick up the remaining pieces of her life, she begins to reflect on the past and the choices she made that led her to the present day. What if she had married her college sweetheart? What if Rose dumps Alex and he’s still in love with Alice? Alice needs all the comfort and support she can get, finding it in the most unlikely of places, including an ex-porn star and a clever psychic.

Pieces of Happily Ever After by Irene Zutell offers a realistic portrayal of how love can fade and be found again in the last place one would ever expect. Alice’s comparisons of her early 20’s to her current age of 38 are a combination of humorous, truthful, and depressing all at the same time. Women readers will find themselves nodding in agreement as Alice becomes frighteningly self-aware of the drastic changes time and motherhood has made to her body.

As I read, I recognized pieces of my early 20’s self in Alice’s early 20’s self. Spending an afternoon inside of Alice’s head was like sitting down for coffee and listening to my best friend tell me her latest woes. However, at times I did find myself frustrated with Alice as she scrutinized and unfairly judged her peers and neighbors. Overall, Alice is a sympathetic character and I wanted her to find some happiness after the hell she had endured.

I have never read any of Zutell’s previous novels, but enjoyed the characters she has created and the nuggets of wisdom she has shared with her readers. Gabby was a perfectly penned 5-year-old, reflecting all the playfulness, frustration, and heartbreak that only a daughter can share with her mother. Pieces of Happily Ever After is also the perfect novel for any woman who has experienced a failed marriage and needs reassurance that life can be good, even when happily ever after ends.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

This book was provided free of any obligation by SheKnows Book Club. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.